On This Gay Day: Transgender trailblazer Christine Jorgensen was born


Transgender trailblazer Christine Jorgensen was born in 1926

Christine Jorgensen was born on this day, she was the first American to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

After being drafted into the military and serving in World War II Jorgensen heard news about the new medical procedures of gender reassignment surgery.
She traveled to Europe and in Copenhagen, Denmark, began the process of transitioning in 1951. She chose the name Christine in honour of the endocrinologist who treated her, Dr Christian Hamburger.

She returned to the United States in the early 1950s. Her transition was the subject of a New York Daily News front-page story. While the report wrongly suggested Jorgensen was the first person to undergo gender reassignment surgery, she was the first person to be treated with a combination of hormones and surgery.

She became an instant celebrity, using the platform to advocate for transgender people and became known for her directness and polished wit. She also worked as an actress and nightclub entertainer and recorded several songs. She published her autobiography and often spoke at universities about her experiences.

In 1959 she became engaged to typist Howard J Knox (pictured), but the couple were unable to gain a marriage certificate because Jorgensen was identified as male on her birth certificate. Know lost his job when it became known he was engaged to someone who was transgender. The couple sadly broke up.

Shortly before her death in 1989 Jorgensen said that she had given the sexual revolution a “good swift kick in the pants”. She died of bladder and lung cancer four weeks short of her 63rd birthday.

OIP Staff


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